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Supreme Court rules on some mandatory minimum sentences

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As is the case with any law in Canada, it is possible that criminal laws could later be amended or repealed. This is illustrated by two recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Both concern the use of mandatory minimum jail sentences that were previously put in place.

The first decision concerns the Truth in Sentencing Act. Under this act, the time individuals convicted of crimes spent in custody while awaiting trial were not given any extra credit for that time. Instead, they were only given one credit for each day served. This resulted in longer periods of time spent in jail.

The second decision addressed a one year mandatory minimum sentence for drug traffickers who were previously convicted of the crime. The court found the mandatory minimum was unconstitutional because it constituted cruel and unusual punishment. It is possible that other mandatory minimum sentencing laws could face the same fate.

This is not to say that all minimum sentences will be eradicated. On the contrary, the Justice Minister indicated that as long as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are not violated, the government supports the sentencing approach.

If you are facing a criminal charge in Toronto you probably are unfamiliar with many of the laws and potential consequences that you could face if convicted. Fortunately, criminal defence lawyers are aware of these laws and stay abreast of changes as they occur, so they are able to assist people facing similar situations. The sooner their assistance is sought, the sooner you can get to work on building a defense to the charges.

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